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“I want to thank the 1.6 million people in Scotland who voted to remain in the European Union. We lost that campaign, it was a bitter blow, but we are fighting back.

Liberal Democrats are the biggest and best force to keep the United Kingdom in the European Union. So you should join our Party to make that happen.

So many thousands of people have already. I want you to do that too.”

Willie Rennie MSP

European Parliament launches information campaign

The official run-up to the 2014 European elections started on 10 September, when the European Parliament launched its awareness and information campaign. This campaign will continue beyond the elections themselves, until the newly-elected Parliament in turn elects the next European Commission President.

Anni Podimata (S&D, EL), one of the two EP Vice-Presidents responsible for communication. “There is a perception that EU political decision-taking in the current economic crisis has lacked proper legitimacy. People, EU voters, have the exclusive possibility to determine the political majorities of the Parliament, which will set the course for forging legislation, challenging bad policies and leading the debate in the five years following the elections.”

“The European Parliament is the Chamber of EU citizens – we are the citizens’ voice in the EU decision-making process,” stresses Othmar Karas (EPP, AT), the other Vice-President responsible for communication. “But this time it’s different. This campaign will lead up to the European elections of 22-25 May 2014, but also beyond, until Parliament elects the President of the European Commission and approves the new Commission’s political agenda.”

Phase one of the public information campaign starts now, with ACT.REACT.IMPACT. This phase aims to explain the European Parliament’s new powers and their implications for people living in the EU.

In the UK we are scheduled to vote on Thursday 22nd May 2014. European turnout last time was only 34.7% so it good to see the European Parliament looking to communicate the importance of the work its does and why everyone should want to paticipate in electing our new MEPs next May.

Guess Who’s Coming to Glasgow

Liberal Democrat conference

Glasgow Liberal Democrats are delighted to welcome the party’s autumn conference 2013 to Glasgow. Conference will open on Saturday 14 September with consultative sessions at 10.00 and the formal opening of conference at 14.20. On Wednesday 18 September, conference will close at approximately 15.30.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference will take place on Saturday 14 September from 09.30 until around 15.30 that day. All Scottish members are entitled to vote so come along and have your say on how the Scottish Liberal Democrats are run.

Liberal Democrat Conferences are attended by thousands of party workers, councillors and parliamentarians from every constituency in the UK. They also attract diplomats, international, national and local media and observers from a broad range of commercial, charity and non-government organisations. In addition to formal debates on the conference floor, we hold less formal consultative sessions on aspects of Party policy and strategy and also host a diverse exhibition and fringe programme.

For details see:


Maryhill Park Investment Plans move forward.

Entrance sign for Maryhill Park, Glasgow

I notice there has been some interest over what’s happening at Maryhill Park. So I was delighted to hear from Glasgow Life today that two of the tennis courts should be open by the end of next week.

This sees further progress following the public consultation which established the investment plans for the park and follows the preliminary meeting of the Friends of Maryhill Park by residents in this area of the ward.

Glasgow Life have confirmed that:  “Over the coming months, planned investment work will be carried out to upgrade the tennis courts and further specialist work is planned for the running track. We will give access to the site, to allow for a spring clean of the surrounding areas.”

Glasgow Life, in partnership with local clubs and other agencies are looking at future plans for investment in the area, including the running track and tennis courts at Maryhill Park.

The city has invested £17 million in sports facilities in six locations which are within walking distance of the site, including a new £8.3 million, state-of-the-art leisure centre at Maryhill and numerous indoor and outdoor pitches.

Recent Investment 

  1. Maryhill has seen the construction of the city’s most recent major leisure Centre at Gairbraid Avenue in the heart of Maryhill. This significant facility sits alongside the redeveloped Burgh Halls as part of a massive regeneration project. The Leisure Centre includes a swimming pool, fitness suite, health suite, dance studios, sports halls etc and was opened in 2010 at a cost of £8.3m.  In this short space of time it has attracted over 400,000 attendances.
  2. New sports pitches and community leisure facility at John Paul Academy. These opened in 2008 at a cost of £2 million and have attracted 140,000 local people since it opened.
  3. Refurbished sports pitches adjacent to Maryhill Park. These opened in 2008 at a cost of £250,000.

There are numerous opportunities for young people to get active in the Maryhill area. Glasgow Life supports numerous sports clubs and activities for young people in the local area, including, bowling, football, judo, martial arts and netball – all of which include new expansion within junior ranks. The Maryhill Junior Boys Club and the Sapphire Gymnastics Club have been credited as outstanding examples of engagement with young people. 

Glasgow Life also supports the Maryhill Harriers, with the junior club attracting a regular attendance of 28 young athletes to the club.

Maryhill Activity Directory provides a comprehensive listing of activities and events in the Maryhill area. The directory includes activities mainly from the communities of Acre, Cadder, Firhill, Gilshochill, Hamiltonhill, Kelvindale, part of Lambhill, Maryhill, North Kelvinside, Ruchill, Summerston, Westercommon, Woodside, Wyndford & beyond.

Cordia Wrong on Jubilee Holiday

Cordia LLP logo

Like other Councillors I was recently contacted by the trade union Unite about the decision of the Cordia LLP Board not to grant Unison or Unite members the Diamond Jubilee as an extra public holiday, despite it being awarded to 7000 GMB members in Cordia, all other Arms Length Companies (Aleo’s) and all the city council staff.

Normally I have nothing but praise for the work of Cordia but I must admit that as a former negotiator for Unison I was shocked by this and even more so when I was advised that the Cordia Board comprising four Labour and one SNP Councillor had backed this decision.

In correspondence the Managing Director of Cordia has advised me the issue of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee holiday is tied into a range of changes in staff terms and conditions which Cordia feel are necessary in order to deal with the financial challenges faced by the company. Ominously the letter states that:

 response from Cordia LLP on Jubilee Holiday dispute

Whatever the dispute between Management and Unions over the wider package of service reform it cannot make sense to say that 94% of your workforce can have the Jubilee holiday but 6% cannot. The cost of bringing those staff in, especially given all council staff will be off, will clearly exceed the cost of granting the holiday.

I’ve written back to Cordia urging them to separate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Holiday from this dispute with two of their unions. I hope commonsense prevails and that the new Cordia Board, which will be selected after May’s elections, will reverse this decision.

A Fresh Start for Glasgow

front page of Glasgow Liberal Democrat ManifestoIf you read the press the council elections in Glasgow are often framed as a battle between the SNP and Labour in some kind of titanic struggle that may determine the outcome of a future Independence Referendum.

But the reality is that these elections are actually about how our City is run and our communities best served. The choice on May 3rd should be about electing hard working Councillors not part time politicians. Being a Councillor is a job of work, Councillors in Glasgow are responsible for a budget of over £2 Billion pounds and how Councillors resource, plan and deliver services affects the daily lives of citizens far more than any MSP or MP.

We believe these elections give Glasgow an historic opportunity to shed the mistakes of the past and deliver a fresh start for our city, restoring it’s reputation and re-establishing the bond of trust between our city and its people. Some of our key themes are set out in our Manifesto for Glasgow.

So I urge constituents, keep on asking the hard questions of what candidates will actually do, and most of all exercise your right to vote on May 3rd.

Council backs Evening Times ‘Opt for Life’ campaign

  picture of NHS organ donor card

I was really glad that our last full council meeting unanimously agreed to back the motion which I was honoured to move with Bailie Jean McFadden’s support.  I am really grateful that Jean seconded the motion because I know this is a cause dear to both of us. When my friend Peter was receiving his dialysis treatment it was often next to her husband John at the same hospital.  Jean spoke movingly of John’s kidney failure and the Second Chance campaign which he set up which also called for a move to a presumed consent system for organ donations.

You can get more information about the Evening Times campaign here and you can join the organ donor register here.

The motion in full read:

Council notes:

1. That although 90% of people say they support organ donation, for lots of reasons only a quarter of the UK population is on the organ donor register; 

2. That 3 people die every day across the UK while waiting for an organ transplant; and 

3. That support for a change to a soft opt out system is backed by major charities, including the British Heart Foundation, Kidney Research UK, Diabetes UK, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and the British Medical Association (BMA). 

Council therefore congratulates the Evening Times on its current campaign to secure more donors and urging the Scottish Government to adopt a soft opt-out system of organ donation to address a national shortage of donors on the register. 

Council therefore agrees: 

1. To add our support to the campaign; 

2. To encourage residents, councillors and employees to join the current donor register; 

3. To publicise our support for the campaign through all council media channels; and

 4. To send a copy of this motion to all MSPs.

And so it begins…

picture of ballot paper

Well nominations are now closed and the full list of candidates standing for election in Ward 15 Maryhill Kelvin on 3rd MAy 2012 is confirmed as:

DINGWALL, Alex – Scottish Liberal Democrats
ERSKINE, Euan – Scottish Conservative and Unionist
LETFORD, John – Scottish National Party (SNP)
PARISH, Steen – Scottish Green Party
RAZAQ, Mohammed – Scottish Labour Party
RHODES, Martin – Scottish Labour Party
SCALLY, Franny – Scottish National Party (SNP)
TURBETT, Liam – Scottish Socialist Party – Save Our Services

Remember local elections do count and I hope that all constituents will use your vote to select the four best candidates to represent our ward.

I hope that my own record in serving our communities over the last five years will be worthy of your support.

Community groups benefit from March Area Committee grants

Community Notice Board

The March meeting of Maryhill Kelvin Area Committee was happy to support the following bids from local groups.

£2050 to Wyndford Residents Association and Wyndford & District Community Council for ‘Wyndford World Cup Fun Day’ to take place in and around Maryhill Hub on Saturday 26th May 2012.

£1000 towards the Cadder Community Festival which will be held on Saturday 16th June 2012.

£1000 to Summerston Youth Forum towards a gala day on 30th June 2012 North West Women’s Centre.

£2000 for St Mary’s Primary School for new playground equipment.

£1,800 to John Paul Academy Parent Council for equipment for playground games event.

£2000 to John Paul Academy for equipment and clothing for pupils participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

£4647 to support the refurbishment of Cadder Community Centre, this follows on the successful bid for £28,000 approved at the Maryhill Kelvin and Canal Local Community Planning Partnership.

£539 for new IT equipment for The Disability Community project which aims to enhance the lives of disabled people within the local area by improving services and providing opportunities for personal and social fulfilment.

£250 to Gairbraid Women’s Church Guild towards the cost of Bus hire for a trip to Oban on 2nd June 2012 for approximately 33 people.

£195 agreed for bus trip by the North West Women’s Centre to the Scottish Parliament.

£600 to Greater Maryhill Outreach project for children’s musical instruments.

£450 to Wyndford & District Community Council towards purchase of laptop and printer.

£830 to Glasgow Repertory Company towards delivering a tour of the 2012 production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to communities in Glasgow. This proposal is specifically aimed at a performance in Botanic Gardens and one in the St Matthews Centre (Canal ward). These performances will be free at both venues and take place on 17th and 18th July 2012.

A budget for millions, not millionaires

A £3.5bn tax cut for working people.

  • Biggest single ever uplift in the tax threshold
  • 21 million working people getting an extra £220 tax cut
  • Tycoon Tax raises FIVE times as much from the super-rich

The Liberal Democrats have ensured this is a budget for the millions not for the millionaires, delivering a £3.5billion tax cut to average working people.

As part of the Budget, the Chancellor has announced that from next year, the Income Tax threshold will be raised further, ensuring that no one pays any income tax on the first £9,200 they earn.

In Glasgow that means 14,910 people will have been lifted out of paying Income Tax all together and a further 198,700 will receive a £220 tax cut. This is on top of tax cuts of £200 last year and a further £130 next month.

This budget shows the value of Liberal Democrats in Government. As a Scottish Liberal Democrat, I want to see a fairer tax system where help is provided for those who need it most and where the richest pay their fair share.

Raising the Income Tax threshold will help average working people in Glasgow and especially in my own ward of Maryhill Kelvin who have been struggling with bills and higher cost of living.

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:

“Liberal Democrats have been clear in our priorities for the Budget. We wanted to see a Budget for the millions, not the millionaires.

“The Coalition Government inherited an unfair tax system from Labour, who in their 13 years hit ordinary working families hardest by abolishing the 10p tax rate while letting tycoons get away with shameless tax avoidance.

“Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government are doing the right thing to clear up the mess Labour left behind, making sure the wealthiest pay their fair share by clamping down on tax avoidance, introducing a ‘tycoon tax’ and putting an end to stamp duty dodging by the super rich.

“Raising the Income Tax threshold is a key Liberal Democrat commitment that the Coalition Government is implementing. The announcement in the Budget will mean almost 2 million people will be taken out of paying Income Tax all together in the UK and give nearly 21 million people a £220 tax cut.”